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a day for all the rest

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The hotel is quiet. It's almost an hour before dawn; the restaurant staff are still setting up the complimentary breakfast buffet. But the hostess waves him in and invites him to sit anywhere he likes. Victor soon sees why: he's not the first one there.

And it's even someone he knows. Which means he can't really get away now without at least saying hello. On a normal day, he'd be at least a little bit reluctant; he's an early riser and values the time he has to himself in the morning.

But today is… not any normal day. He is both not-quite-awake and the furthest state from sleep, somehow at the same time. Restlessness runs under his skin, almost an itch—though he's never felt steadier.

A distraction would not be unwelcome.

Phichit looks up at his approach. "Coach Victor! Good morning!" He waves with vigour, forgetting the fork in his hand; a bit of omelette goes flying. "Oops. Sorry!"

"Good morning," replies Victor with easy cheer. Celestino isn't wrong about his student's natural charm; even the staff member who efficiently scoops up the bit of wayward egg smiles in acceptance of his sheepish apology.

It's not difficult to see how Phichit and Yuuri are friends.

"Please, join me," says Phichit, waving at his table and all its unoccupied chairs. "I promise I won't throw any more food."

"It's fine, I have good reflexes," chuckles Victor. He drapes his scarf over the back of the chair opposite Phichit and goes to fix himself a plate.

Over half a year later and it still feels strange, to eat as much as he wants, to grab anything he feels the slightest interest in trying. He's never been a heavy eater—but, a part of his mind can't help wondering, had he ever really had the chance to be?

"I'm guessing Yuuri's still asleep?" asks Phichit once Victor has sat down with his breakfast. "He's never been a morning person. The one time he was forced to take an early class because the professor wasn't teaching any other session, I had to literally pull him out of bed and roll him into the shower. Twice a week." Phichit shakes his head. "That was not a fun semester for either of us."

"Celestino never held trainings in the morning?" asks Victor. A twinge in the area of his hip makes itself known; he squirms in his seat.

"He did," says Phichit. "But he had this other student who was only free in the mornings. So Yuuri and I were spared, unless there was a big competition coming up."

Since Phichit broached the subject himself, Victor feels comfortable asking about their time in Detroit, about training under Celestino, about university. Phichit seems perfectly happy to talk about Yuuri; he asks questions of his own, particularly about Japan and Yuuri's family, whom he's only met once.

Of course, Phichit's friendliness makes it easy to overlook how observant he can be. The young man's voice is deceptively casual when he suddenly asks, eyes on his phone, "Hey, you didn't just leave him to wake up alone, did you?"

Victor nearly chokes on his coffee. He manages to say, "N-no, of course not! I woke him and told him I was going to breakfast," instead of, is it so very obvious?

He squirms in his seat before he can stop himself. He can still feel all the places on his body where Yuuri's fingers had visited, Yuuri's mouth, mere hours ago, as if his skin is not yet ready to relinquish the echoes of his lover's touch.

"Good," says Phichit, and the easy smile is back, like it had never been gone at all.

Victor industriously chews his toast, struck by the feeling of having narrowly evaded danger. Which is... a bit ridiculous, but also exhilarating.

He isn't unaware of the spoils of his position in the skating world; after all, he'd poured twenty years of his life into getting there. The pedestal is a privilege and an honour. Yet sometimes Victor had felt the distance it placed between himself and his fellow skaters and he had ached.

And now.

Well, the gold medalist of the Cup of China has just given Victor a subtle reminder to treat his friend well.

This year's been one new experience after another; it had been silly of Victor to think—to dread—that the surprises will stop just because they're back in the familiar grind of the competitive circuit.

 

 

The quiet of the restaurant is broken by the arrival of a large group of tourists at the door. The two skaters are sitting a good distance away, tucked nearly into a corner next to the floor-to-ceiling glass windows, but Victor knows how quickly these places can fill up, especially when a complimentary buffet is involved.

Phichit clears his throat. "You, ah, might want to wear your scarf again." He taps meaningfully at his own collarbone.

Victor touches the indicated spot on his neck. The skin is markedly sensitive. He presses down, unable to help himself, and the sweet little ache summons a sense-memory: strong fingers carding through his hair, then digging into his shoulder, powerful thighs like a vice around his hips, his name gasped into his ear before a hot mouth seals over the skin of his neck.

"If I didn't love Yuuri like a brother, I'd be sooo curious right now."

The other skater's voice brings him back to the present. The present reminds him that he's fondling a love-bruise in front of Phichit, a love-bruise given to him by one of Phichit's close friends. It's a sign of how blatant Victor's lapse of attention must have been been, and how obvious the cause of it, that even Phichit looks to be mildly embarassed, his phone on the table instead of in his hands.

"I'm very happy for the two of you, of course," continues Phichit. "I just wish I know less about what Yuuri likes in bed."

Victor's thoughts screech to a halt. "What."

Phichit seems to realize what he's just implied, and fervently waves a bread-bearing hand in denial. Victor doesn't even move away from the spray of crumbs. "It's not what it sounded like! I just meant, you know. We were two guys sharing a small student dorm room. The walls were thin. He had posters of you everywhere. Well, so did I, and everybody else at the club-" an absolutely fascinating blush sweeps over Phichit's face, "-but that's not the point! The point is, bros don't talk about the things they may or may not hear when their bro thinks they've gone out, or are still asleep. Yuuri was never as quiet as he thinks he was."

Having slept in a room down the hall from Yuuri's for months, Victor can definitely agree, and just barely stops himself from nodding earnestly, realizing at the last moment how Phichit might read it.

But now he's terribly curious about the sorts of things Phichit might have been privy to. He finds himself jealous of the time Phichit has had—and how utterly absurd is that, when Victor has been living with Yuuri for months, breathing the same air and eating the same food and learning the amazing, unpredictable depths and derivations of Yuuri's emotions. When Victor is, even now, trying to concentrate on eating his breakfast, working to sit upright when he's languid and loose in the limbs, all the while wanting nothing more than to go back upstairs, back to rumpled sheets and his very own sleeping beauty.

A fond chuckle mixes with a sigh from across the table, and then Phichit is reaching over and nudging Victor's hand a few centimetres to the left, correcting its course towards the handle of his coffee cup.

 

 

Yuuri's still asleep when Victor returns. Victor had made sure to tuck the blankets back around him when he left, and Yuuri's burrowed in, only his head and the top of one shoulder visible. Victor sits on his unused bed and considers taking out the book he'd borrowed from Yuuri's collection. Then Yuuri shifts, revealing the other shoulder: the elegant slope of pale skin, the scatter of marks in the shape of Victor's mouth.

Victor blushes, buoyed by pride and possessiveness. He presses on his collarbone again. Undresses down to his underwear and re-joins Yuuri on the bed.

It's deliciously warm under the covers. Yuuri himself is a furnace, inviting Victor to close in, to stay close, to melt toward and over and into him. Victor does his best.

"How was breakfast?" rumbles Yuuri, and Victor shivers at the low timbre of his voice. Yuuri turns in his arms until they're facing each other.

Another memory flashes by: Yuuri chanting his name, Yuuri muffling his moans into Victor's shoulder, Yuuri's voice hitching when Victor's fingers twist inside him.

Like Phicit said, Yuuri isn't as quiet as he thinks he is.

Victor doesn't make any conscious decision to kiss him—it just happens. Yuuri has morning breath and hasn't even opened his eyes yet, but he's right there, head resting sweetly on Viktor's arm, and Viktor defies anyone to resist. A sweet press of lips, slow, a slip of tongue, and then again, again.

 

 

"Breakfast was fine," says Victor eventually, breathless. "You should-" Yuuri's hips move in a very distracting way, and somehow Victor finds himself on top, Yuuri sleep-warm and dark-eyed under him. "Aren't you hungry?"

"Yes," says Yuuri, gaze intent; the hands roaming Victor's body leave no doubt that he's not talking about food.

They kick the sheets to the floor. Victor sees the moment Yuuri registers the fall of full daylight, the absence of clothing; somehow Yuuri's eyes tell of his nakedness more thoroughly than the glorious expanse of bare skin. But Yuuri falters only for a moment, too focused on Victor to succumb to his natural shyness. Like his desire for Victor overrides anything else.

Victor thinks he understands how people can be driven to doing stupid things, in order to feel the way he does right now.

"I know we just, last night," gasps Yuuri, arching into Victor's touch, "but I want to, again, I can't stop thinking about it." He mouths at the shell of Victor's ear, sending a shiver straight down to Victor's groin. "Is it... is always like this?" The question brings Yuuri to blushing more than his leg hitching up over Victor's hip, so eager, more than Victor thumbing his nipple.

Victor presses close, makes sure to look him in the eyes when he says, "I wouldn't know." He means: I've never felt like this before. He knows Yuuri understands when he sees the flash of possessiveness, familiar from when he's dancing Eros.

"I can still feel you inside," whispers Yuuri, like it's a secret. The sheer want that jolts through Victor takes him by surprise; his hips stutter forward helplessly.

Yuuri pushes down Victor's briefs and takes them both in hand. He licks the taste of coffee out of Victor's mouth and urges Victor to grind into him, to thrust into his grip. The way Yuuri is rolling his hips and digging his heel into the taller man's back, Victor half-expects a demand to be fucked, which Victor would be hard-pressed to refuse. But maybe Yuuri is too impatient, or he's still sensible enough to feel last night's exertions, because in the end he just commandeers Victor's other hand, curls their fingers tight around their aching lengths.

Victor comes all over Yuuri's stomach and chest, messy and uncoordinated; the pleasure is quickly followed by no small degree of awe, at the sight of Yuuri debauched and desperate beneath him, on the edge of being undone. Victor tightens his hold, feels the flesh firming in his hand, and helps his lover over the shining edge, bending down to claim the climax from his mouth.

 

 

Yuuri only just makes it to the restaurant in time for the breakfast buffet, and only because Victor takes his hand and more or less tows him downstairs; he'd learned early that mornings are a regular battleground between Yuuri's love of food and general reluctance to get out of bed.

Not that Yuuri didn't try to persuade him to just stay in bed. But Victor had stood his ground.

(After the second round.)

He ends up stealing some food from Yuuri's plate. The hostess and at least one other member of the staff must recognize him from that morning, but they don't say anything, even though getting a second breaksfast is surely cheating. Maybe he looks the way his muscles feel: like he's just had a prolonged workout and needs refuelling.

It's only when they're heading back upstairs that he realizes he'd left his scarf in his room.

 

 

Phichit had mentioned that he's staying in Beijing an extra night, like them, so it's not a surprise when he invites Yuuri out for lunch.

"He means you too!" says Yuuri absently when he emerges from the bathroom. Victor's surprise must be obvious-or maybe it's his lack of movement-because Yuuri's phone is pressed into his hand when Yuuri rushes past.

lunch y/y? lobby 1230 tell v wear casual!

Victor looks up just as Yuuri bends down to rummage through his suitcase. Yuuri is freshly showered, dressed in his usual casual wear. Nothing Victor hasn't seen dozens of times before, yet Victor's body and brain go into a sort of spasm, a sense-memory barrage: the taste of the skin at the base of Yuuri's spine ghosts over his tongue, his legs remember the trembling stretch of Yuuri's legs, his palm echoes with the curve of Yuuri's hips.

He pulls in a deep breath. Stares at his hands. They don't look any different; his face in the bathroom mirror, earlier, had looked the same as on any other day.

The way he feels is a different matter.

"Victor, have you seen my black socks?" asks Yuuri. "The thick ones with grey stripes."

"Under the bedside table," says Victor faintly, and then, "no, on-on your side," because Yuuri prefers to be closer to the window, clinging to a vague notion that sunlight would eventually wake him up if he sleeps through his alarm.

Victor has tested this. The Sleeping Katsuki, when subjected to sunlight, will a) roll to an unlit part of the bed; b) hide his face under a pillow, the blanket, or into the chest of a conveniently adjacent Nikiforov; or c) scrunch his forehead into an adorable frown and just carry on sleeping.

"Thanks," says Yuuri. Victor's attention settles on the discovered socks, and he recognizes them: they're from the bulk pack Yuuri's mother had bought the previous month, in anticipation of all the travelling Yuuri would be doing. Victor knows because he'd gone with her to the shops, and she'd quizzed him about the climates of all the cities Yuuri's scheduled to travel to.

The shopkeeper, a local, had greeted both her and Victor by name.

Yuuri's shoes shuffle into his vision. "Are you all right?"

Victor lifts his head and blinks at Yuuri. "Yes," he replies honestly. "Are you ready to go?"

Yuuri executes his habitual sequence of pocket-patting, listing the essential items under his breath as he confirms their presence on his person. "Phone, wallet, key, mint-do you think we'd need a map? No, Google Map should be enough, I even downloaded an offline version." He smiles at Victor. "Ready!"

Victor doesn't actually remember getting ready but a quick check confirms he has all the usuals; he's probably travelled and competed so often that his body just moved on autopilot. "Let's go."

 

 

After lunch they end up at a mall, and it's so crowded that the three of them link arms to avoid losing each other whenever there's a surge of people heading in the opposite direction. Phichit declares that he needs to buy souvenirs for family and friends back home, and Yuuri sheepishly opines that he should do the same. They end up picking a random but likely-looking floor and begin browsing the endless wall of shops and little stalls.

"What about this statue for Mari?" asks Yuuri. The statue is some kind of dark stone, the design unusual enough that it takes a moment for the eye to pick out the shape of a dragon.

"The ashtray over there is cheaper and has the same style," says Victor. "Plus it's something she can actually use." He hums thoughtfully. "Though maybe we shouldn't encourage her smoking."

"Good point." Yuuri turns the ashtray over in his hand thoughtfully, then notices a different display. "Oh, what about these charms for the triplets?"

Victor peers at them and grins. "They're very cute! I'm sure they'll like them."

"I'll be over there looking at silk scarves for my mom," says Phichit, already moving away from them.

"Maybe Hiroko-san would like one too?" Victor asks Yuuri.

Yuuri shakes his head. "She doesn't really wear scarves. For her, I was thinking something like gloves. Maybe from the shop near the escalator."

"I noticed them too!" says Victor. "The maroon ones? She has a hat in that exact color."

At some point, within the waves and whirls of people moving in multiple directions around them, the bright-lit shops and signs gleaming with Chinese characters, the hub of voices and endless loops of tinny pop music, Yuuri's arm linked to Victor's arm becomes Yuuri's hand gripping Victor's. Victor, distracted by the growing collection of shopping bags in his other hand, doesn't notice until Yuuri expertly tugs him out of the way of an enormous stroller, no doubt saving his foot from being crushed.

Victor looks at their joined hands, then at Yuuri's face. Yuuri is very pointedly not looking at him. Victor suppresses a smile and, with gentle deliberation, laces their fingers together. A faint blush blooms on Yuuri's face. Victor feels absurdly pleased with himself.

Phichit rejoins them when they're arguing over bowl sets. Victor can't help watching him out of the corner of one eye, curious about any reactions. He catches the raising of a phone for a stealth snap, which he's not surprised by, but it's the small smile on Phichit's face that settles something inside, that reinforces the train of his thoughts since breakfast: that this is far beyond just passing time at an event, beyond some fleeting affair; thoroughly different from anything he's ever had before. Whatever he'd expected at the start, whatever he'd planned for, his life is now bound up with Yuuri's, in more ways than he's yet realized.

And Victor is so grateful.

 

 

They get back to the hotel just as Christophe is finishing a late check-out. He smiles at seeing them, and there's the usual round of good-byes and good-lucks. Chris whispers something to Phichit that leaves the younger skater wide-eyed and Yuuri giggling into Victor's shoulder. Then Leo and his coach walk into the lobby and they have to do the whole thing over again.

"Chris said his flight's not for another five hours," Yuuri whispers to Victor. "Why don't the two of you go and have a few drinks?"

Victor blinks. "You don't want to come with us?"

Yuuri smiles. "I know I'll be welcome, but I think he misses you. The two of you have been friends for a long time, haven't you? And you haven't really had the chance to spend time with him."

It's the kind of thing Victor doesn't think of, even on the days before his brain's been full of Yuuri Yuuri Yuuri. Which, he belatedly realizes, might be why Yuuri is giving him a gentle nudge now.

"Besides," continues Yuuri, "Phichit thinks Leo wants to ask us about Guang Hong, and he might be too shy if you or Chris are there."

Victor vaguely remembers the Chinese skater. "Guang Hong? Isn't he a little young?"

Yuuri shakes his head, chuckling. "He's seventeen! And Leo's only nineteen. They're both older than Yurio."

Victor doesn't know what that has to do with anything, but then Yuuri squeezes his hand and shoves him—lovingly—in Chris' direction. There's nothing left to do but grin and ask Chris, brightly, "Do you have time for a drink?"

They pick one of the hotel lounges at random. There are hardly any guests there yet, due to the relatively early hour, but a young woman is playing soft jazz on a gleaming grand piano. Their drinks arrive mere minutes after ordering them.

"So," says Chris.

Victor raises an eyebrow. "It's not like you to hold back."

Of course, he should have guessed Chris would ask the one question he'd have trouble answering. "Are you truly done with skating, Victor? With competing?"

Victor's been avoiding a direct answer to this. But he owes Chris the truth, or at least as much of it as he's aware of himself. "I don't know. I just remember, even before the Worlds, how I was trying to plan what to do for the next season. But I couldn't... I couldn't think of where to go, where I haven't already gone before."

"So you thought of Yuuri?" It's a little bit amazing, how Chris can insinuate so many things with a single look.

"It's not like that," says Victor, maybe more sharply than he intends; Chris ducks his head apologetically.

"I believe you. But, I have to ask: why Yuuri?" Chris leans back in his leather seat, the ice in his drink clinking. "If it was his pole-dancing, I'm pretty sure I've pulled more creative moves on you at some point."

Anybody else, and Victor would think they're asking, why him and not me? But it has never been that way between the two of them, despite occasionally enjoying each other's company in the past. Chris is genuinely curious, as a friend, and this is something he wants to learn about Victor.

"The pole-dancing did, uh, catch my interest," admits Victor, taking a drink.

"Hmmm, but you were already trying to talk to him before that point," says Chris contemplatively. He frowns, clearly trying to recall that night. "I think... didn't he spin you when you got too close to the dance-off? When Plisetsky would have kicked you in the head. Oh, was it that? Do you feel like he saved your life? It was a very dashing move."

Victor laughs, unable to help himself. "My hero! You know, I'm not sure how much of that night he remembers. He's never talked about it. And his usual self is... very different."

"Yes, drunk Yuuri is an entirely different person from sober Yuuri," says Chris dryly.

"I knew tha," says Victor, defensive again, "I expected as much, when I went to Japan."

"You went to Japan expecting to bed him and, while you're there, maybe try your hand at coaching," says Chris, clearly unconvinced. "In short, you were taking a holiday while still staying on the ice."

Victor knocks back the rest of his vodka. "I wasn't expecting to bed him."

Chris peers at him. "No, I suppose getting the experience at coaching came first. The ice always comes first, with us, doesn't it?" He finishes his drink and gestures at the nearest waiter to bring another round.

He sounds almost sad, Victor thinks. So he offers, "It wasn't any one thing. It started at the banquet, I think. But the rest came later. I went to him wanting to understand something I had no name for—something I could feel when I watched him skate. By the time I understood." He spreads his hands helplessly.

"Victor Nikiforov in love," smiles Chris, "I've always wondered what it would look like." His voice is kind, affectionate, far from the snide or mocking tones Victor has heard elsewhere, because Chris is a good man. Besides, Victor remembers, Yuuri is Chris' friend too.

"You know, I've never seen you so handsy with anyone," says Chris. Some of his usual playfulness returns. "Not that I blame you."

Victor doesn't know why he's blushing—he and Chris have seen each other in too many compromising positions to start being shy now—but he feels it happening.

"I've never really..." he trails off, not knowing the right words to explain.

Chris looks at him consideringly, and Victor thinks Chris understands anyway. "You have changed, you know."

It's... the best thing he's heard in a while. A long breath leaves Victor; something lifts in his chest, a weight he hadn't known he'd been carrying. He smiles at Chris, and lets show all the warmth he feels. "Thank you, old friend. I didn't—I hadn't realized how much I needed somebody else to see it too."

Chris' expression changes into something soft. Victor gazes back in kind, and for a moment the two of them are the mere boys they had been when they'd first met. Then the moment—the measure of ten years—passes, but those ten years feel gentler now, especially when Chris huffs, "Watch who you're calling old, Vitya."

Victor laughs. "As much as you and I love talking about me—tell me, how are things with you?"

 

 

Chris eventually does leave for the airport. After the embrace and cheek-kissing, Victor pointedly tells Chris they'll see each other in Barcelona, making it clear he has no doubt in his mind Chris will qualify for the Final. Then he messages Yuuri.

Where are you?

The reply comes a minute later: w P & GH just ordered dinner @ Thai resto, followed by an address.

He considers going back to their room, but his feet take him outside instead, following the route advised by his phone. The restaurant is only the next street over. There's a queue of people outside; Victor walks in with practiced confidence and scans the room. He has no trouble spotting Yuuri's table.

Yuuri brightens at seeing him. Victor hadn't been worried, exactly, since he doubts Yuuri would have given him their location if he hadn't wanted Victor to join them. All the same, the smile makes Victor feels better, and if he nearly rams into another diner en route to the skaters' table because his eyes are on Yuuri more than on where he's going, well. He hasn't seen Yuuri in ages.

"Wow," says Guang Hong when Victor takes the empty seat next to Yuuri.

Yuuri makes an inquiring "hmm?" sound, though he doesn't actually look away from Victor.

"You get used to it," whispers Phichit, on top of the soft artificial shutter sound of a phone camera. Victor feels a gentle kick to his shin. "Guang Hong got stuck in traffic but he managed to get to the hotel before Leo left for the airport."

"Hello," says Victor, smiling.

"Hello," echoes Guang Hong shyly. "Sorry I missed Chris. Where is he competing next?"

As if the lot of them haven't memorized each other's GPF assignments. Still, Victor dutifully answers, "The Trophée de France."

"Leo said you'll be in the Golden Spin, Guang Hong," says Yuuri. "We'll be rooting for you!"

"Thank you!" says Guang Hong. If Yuuri hadn't told him, Victor would not have thought him to be seventeen. Twelve, maybe. "Victor, I heard that Yuri—the Russian Yuri—will be competing as well."

"If Yakov thinks he can do it, so close to the Final," says Victor, "which he probably will. I did it even before the Challenger series was formed."

Guang Hong asks Phichit how he'll be preparing for the Final, and Phichit passes the question to Yuuri, "since Yuuri has actually been to the Final."

"Why don't you ask Victor?" says Yuuri with a puzzled frown.

Victor wonders if Yuuri is worried about leaving him out. He appreciates it, but occasionally he can, in fact, enjoy a conversation without being the focus of it. "My first Final was a long time ago; you'd remember your first time better."

Yuuri gamefully goes into detail about what he'd done the previous year, but Victor's attention is caught by the faint dusting of pink over Yuuri's cheeks. Victor, intrigued, wonders what Yuuri has thought of-oh.

He's fights the urge to fidget with the collar of his shirt; he'd taken the scarf off because the inside of the restaurant is warm, and he has his shirt buttoned nearly to the collar.

Their drinks arrive. A tall glass of Thai iced tea is set in front of Victor, and he realizes Yuri must have ordered for him.

It seems the most natural thing, then, to squeeze Yuuri's hand under the table, thanking him without disrupting his conversation with the other two. Then he just... leaves his hand there, resting on top of Yuuri's hand, on Yuuri's thigh. He mostly listens to the conversation, only interjecting when he has a particularly strong opinion.

When Yuuri turns his hand and interlaces their fingers, Victor is the one fighting to keep a blush down.

It's a little bit ridiculous and quite a lot of amazing.

He'd believed, for a long time, from the nature of their sport, that at the end of the day it can only be him on the ice. He'd gotten himself as far as he could and pushed himself even further. He'd believed he was the best until he became it, until everybody else believed him too.

By the time he understood differently, he'd forgotten how to reach out to others as anything less than Victor Nikiforov, Living Legend.

It's a little tricky to eat with just his left hand, but Victor prides himself in being adaptable, so he manages. He does appreciate that Phichit, Guang Hong, and even Yuuri do their best to pretend they're not laughing at him.

 

 

They keep to hand-holding all the way back to hotel, all the way through saying good-night to Phichit and Guang Hong, through the lobby and the elevator and the endless hotel hallway.

But the moment the door of their room closes behind them, Victor yanks Yuuri to him, or maybe Yuuri pounces. Either way, Victor's back hits the wall and Yuuri's body closes in, pinning him in place. Yuuri kisses him hard and wet, hungry, his hands pulling at Victor's shirt with none of their usual care.

They somehow make it to the bed, though most of their clothes don't.

The previous night, they'd gone slow, careful, playful at the start and then intense for what had felt like hours.

Now it's as though all the teasing and flirting of the last several months has caught up to them. Victor hears himself gasping like he's just finished a difficult program, too caught up in the sudden glut of skin and Yuuri Yuuri Yuuri to coordinate his hands and his body. The bedsheets are cool against his skin, their legs tangling together; his body revels in being surrounded by the scent and heat of Yuuri, so familiar now, so tied up with home and life and love.

Yuuri manhandles Victor onto his back. They can't seem to stop kissing, which Victor has no problem with, but it makes it hard to keep track of things. He's glad Yuuri seems to know what he's after, at least. Yuuri raises himself to kneeling, straddling Victor, and Victor follows him, sitting up and sucking kisses down Yuuri's neck, grazes teeth along the sensitive skin above his collarbone. Yuuri shivers when he sinks his hand into Yuuri's hair and bares his neck to Victor's greedy mouth.

He's so caught up, drunk on the salt and softness of Yuuri's skin, that he startles when something cold drips onto his thighs. Victor looks down and, realizing what Yuuri must be doing, looks over Yuuri's shoulder. Nearly comes right there, watching Yuuri push two slick fingers inside himself.

"Yuuri," whines Victor. He runs out of words after that, so he kisses Yuuri again, sucking on his tongue. He feels Yuuri shudder against him as Yuuri works himself open. Impatient, Victor follows the line of his arm all the way to his entrance, slippery with lube. Yuuri jerks, legs unconsciously spreading further on either side of Victor's. The next tiem Yuuri's fingers pull out, Victor pushes one of his in.

Yuuri lets out a soft moan. A bottle of lube is pressed into Victor's hand. Victor shakily coats more of his fingers, then pushes two into that hot, grasping heat.

"Oh, oh, yes," pants Yuuri. His hair is a mess and he looks half-wrecked already. "Please, Victor, deeper. More."

Victor complies, and starts crooking his fingers near the deepest point. Yuuri moans, likely far more loudly than he means to, but he looks beyond caring. Victor adds a third finger and focuses on taking deep breaths; the sounds alone are getting him worked up, never mind the heated clenching around his fingers, the way Yuuri is rocking in defiance of Victor's pace, fucking himself on Victor's fingers.

"Okay, I'm ready," says Yuuri, the words almost slurring together. Yuuri has a condom in hand before Victor even registers his meaning. Victor shudders at Yuuri's hand stroking him, the slide of the condom over his cock.

For all his urgency, Yuuri still pauses a moment, meets Victor's eyes. "Victor?"

"Yes," says Victor. He's not sure when he put his hand on Yuuri's hip; he consciously relaxes his hold when he realizes how hard he's gripping.

Yuuri smiles at him, and even in the middle of sex Victor's heart skips a beat at the sight, at the affection and warmth and unconditional welcome. Then Yuuri is guiding him in and taking him, working himself onto Victor's cock inch by torturous inch. It takes all of Victor's self-control to not thrust up; he stares at Yuuri's face instead, flushed with sex and gorgeously blissful. They both moan when Yuuri finally bottoms out; the grin Yuuri gives Victor is another peek of Eros, and Victor has to kiss him again, the way he has to hold back from doing when Yuuri's on the ice.

Between kisses, Victor can only watch, enraptured, as Yuuri rides him, as Yuuri fucks himself on his cock, as close to abandon as Victor has ever seen him. Each bounce, each slide of his Victor's length through Yuuri's hot, slick channel sends a wave of pleasure through Victor's body, pushing him closer to the edge, to a brilliant freefall.

Victor decides this is his new favorite position: he can see every expression on Yuuri's face, can watch his cock disappearing into Yuuri's body, can track the signs as Yuuri climbs closer and closer to climax. When he feels the edge approaching, he closes his eyes and breathes deep, digging his fingers into his own hip, desperate to not come before Yuuri.

When he judges Yuuri is close, he takes hold of Yuuri's cock—messy around the head and likely aching from arousal by now—and works him with firm, fast strokes.

Yuuri comes with a shout. Victor kisses him sloppily, his hand still jacking him, sticky warmth painting their stomachs and thighs.

"You now," gasps Yuuri, face sweaty and eyes glassy. "Vitya. Want you. Come inside me,"

Victor growls. He rolls them over, thrusts his tongue into Yuuri's mouth even as he finally, finally lets his hips snap forward, fucking into Yuuri's body. It takes less than a minute, with Yuuri moaning into his ear and clenching around him. Pleasure punches through him in a hard wave; his arms give out, though he manages to land next to Yuuri instead of directly on top of him.

The two of them breathe hard at each other.

"Wow," says Yuuri.

"Yes," says Victor. They barely have to move their heads to kiss, though it's soft, a barely-there touching of lips.

 

 

Once Victor can feel his legs, he staggers to the bathroom and wets a washcloth, goes through the motions of clean-up. Yuuri helps by putting away the lube and condoms. Once clean, they wordlessly move to the second bed and burrow into the covers.

Yuuri, naturally, is out within minutes. Victor stares at the ceiling, carding his fingers through Yuuri's hair.

The conversation with Chris floats to the fore.

He imagines himself back on the ice.

Only, nowadays, when he thinks of the ice, he thinks of Yuuri. Yuuri skating towards him. Yuuri's hand in his, with all the wondrous and endless surprise that is Yuuri entrusted to his hold, and in Yuuri's other hand is Phichit, and then there's Hiroko and Toshiya, Mari and Minako, the Nishigoris, on and on, connection upon connection, encompassing Saint Petersburg, and Detroit, and beautiful Hasetsu by the sea. People bound to other people, growing and changing, leading and following and meeting together.

Because this is what love does; this is what life does.

He's loved the ice for a long time. But he'd never made the connection before: that he's part of the ice, too. He can live beyond it, love beyond it, so that the next time he dances he can bring something different, create something new, grow his skating into more than ice and rink barriers and scoring—more than the measely sum of its parts.

"Love and life," whispers Victor into the sleepy quiet. There's a lock of hair curling over Yuuri's eyebrow. Victor gently sweeps it to the side, noticing the length.

Yuuri's growing out his hair. It seems like a small miracle, another in a long line of them, that Victor is able to think: I can't wait to see what it looks like long . He presses his face into Yuuri's hair and fills his lungs with the scent of him. "Thank you, Yuuri."

 

There's a place you cannot reach
until you have a dream too large to bear alone.